Skip to main content
11:00 pm
>> tomorrow on c-span, and update on the training of afghanistan forces. that is live at 10:30 in the morning eastern time here on c- span. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> this week: q&a, author naomi schafer riley discusses her latest book, the faculty lounges. it is a critique of tenure and its negative impact on college costs. on page 11 of your preface, he say it is a con game made to suit the interests of the
11:01 pm
tenured faculty, who would prefer to write obscure to homes rather than teach broad introductory class is to freshmen. the teachers have different interests to students and parents. it is not your imagination, if you have read and academic books lately. you as an academic have to basically blaze new trails. you have to always be saying something new. last year, there were 100 new academic works published on shakespeare. love shakespeare. studied shakespeare in college. but i have to wonder whether it is worth a professor's time to be writing new theoretical twists on shakespeare, as opposed to teaching in broad
11:02 pm
introductory class on hamlet. >> when did this start? >> it started with the progressives in the 1920's. there was this idea of a research university, which came over from germany and planted itself on our shores in the early parts of the 20th-century. it was two things. one was scientific research, especially the physical and biological sciences. people were blazing new trails. there was a lot of new ground broken. nobody could judge the quality of the work unless you were truly familiar with this new complex scientific system that was being employed. i think i get that on some level. but what happened was the standards have been shifted into the social sciences and the humanities. suddenly, those professors always had to be saying something new, and could only be judged by people inside their field. there was another progressive
11:03 pm
idea, which was that the professors were supposed to form the experts in society. there were supposed to be what we call public intellectuals. there were supposed to be adding to the store of knowledge. this is what i think one result you see today -- professors stand apart. we are not supposed to, in the broader society, question what they are doing when they are engaged in their research. >> the title of your book is "the faculty lounges, and the other reason you will not get the college education you paid for puzzle why is this book necessary? >> higher indication right now, i think we're having a crisis of confidence, if you look at surveys. americans love higher education. one said it is like mom and apple pie. right now, it has gotten to the point where people are
11:04 pm
questioning our education's value. in my opinion, this is a very good time to look at where we have come, and not to say we have to scrap the whole system or college education is not worth it, but to say we need to build more accountability into the system. i think for students or parents paying tuition bills, we need to have a good sense of what kind of undergraduate education they are getting. >> how many schools are there in the united states that grant for your degrees? >> there are about 5000 to 6000 accredited colleges. it is obviously hard to write a broad book that covers what all of them are doing. they are engaged in many different kinds of activities. some are more vocational. some are liberal arts. some want to be research universities. but there are some things that have in common. one of them is this drive toward
11:05 pm
research. i was very surprised to find that even at community colleges , and so-called teaching universities, not research universities, the drive to publish is always rewarded at these schools. >> what kind of, did you grow up in? >> an academic one in massachusetts. my parents met getting a ph.d. is at the university of chicago. my sister has her own. i am the last member of my family without one. maybe that would tell you something. but i grew up with a deep sense that higher education can be extraordinarily worthwhile, and can change your character, can change your life, can change everything, if it is done right. but what i worry about is that many of the faculty -- it is not just the faculty individually making decisions, but the incentives put in place in the
11:06 pm
system, i think, which are undermining the undergraduate education. >> where did you get your degree? >> harvard, english and government. >> worth the money? >> you would have to ask my parents. it was their money. i think it was. but i had an advantage. i had parents who were insiders and who were able to advise me about what kind of class is to take and which professors were interested in teaching. i knew what to look for. i really think so few people have that going into college. their parents are just thinking this is the next logical step. i want junior to be a member of the upper middle-class. i want them to have a good job. i want them to get something out of college. let us send them here. this is what "u.s. news and world report" says. my father teaches at holy cross
11:07 pm
and my mother does not teach anymore. she taught at a number of colleges before finding her own think tank in worcester that tells the city what it does wrong. >> what did they think of this book? >> i joke with my father. the subtitle of the book is "confessions of an ungrateful child." i think they take some of the criticisms seriously. he feels as if, being at a small liberal arts college, some of the criticisms are not as applicable. but in a great deal of ways, a small liberal arts college is not representative of what most americans experience in higher education. i always emphasized to him that the finding, one of the most important things i learned researching the book, was that for every additional hour to profs fence in the classroom, he or she will get paid less. that is not true only at state
11:08 pm
universities, but at small liberal arts colleges. >> what are you really saying? if you are a teacher in the classroom, the more you spend in their the less you make? >> basically, time spent in the classroom is time not spent writing. depending on how you divide your charm will determine what level you reach. >> who are they writing for? >> each other. i do not know the last time you picked up an academic publication. harvard university press recently said the average circulation of one of their academic publications is 250 books. when you consider that a lot of those books are just purchased automatically by libraries -- and that is harvard university press. when you think about the smaller university presses with a
11:09 pm
circulation smaller than that -- by the way, the expense of those books. students complain. somebody wrote a paper recently where they said the academic publication industry was driven by the producer, and not the consumer. i think that says it all. >> was this book your idea, or the publisher's idea? >> my idea. >> with a row and littlefield? >> yes. >> define the word -- not define it, but explain how someone gets tenure and what is it. >> when you go to a university, you could be offered something called a tenure track position. about 30% to 50% of academic positions are tenure or turn your track. if you're on the tenure track,
11:10 pm
when you arrived, they start the clock. the clock goes about seven years. at some universities, it is lengthened. university of michigan, 10 years. you have to show why the university should keep you on permanently. what you do during that time -- the university of claims three things happen. what matters is your publication record, your teaching record, and your service to the university -- serving on committees. the call this the three legged stool of academia. this time coincides with other things going on in your life. people have pointed out that usually it is between 30 and 40, when women are may be wanting to have children and start families. this is when the most intense part of your career is going on and it is all or nothing. at the end of that clock, a committee of your own department
11:11 pm
members will look at your record and set up or down. >> your fellow professors? >> exactly. most of them in your own discipline. it is not a professor from another department. it is people you have been with for the last seven or eight years, sitting in secret judgment of you to decide whether you stay. >> secret? >> the proceedings are not made public. there was recently an interesting piece by a professor at tufts about how he did not get tenure at the university of chicago. he was talking about -- his wife contributed to the peace -- about how it feels to be judged this way by people you thought were closest to you, and you worked with, and they go into this backroom and decide your future. what happens at that vote, is you either get to stay on
11:12 pm
permanently, or you are out. by the falling academic year. there is no in between. it is not likely will give you another couple of years and see if your publication record improves, or you stay on part- time. you are done. >> what is the percentage of professors teaching on a tenure track that get tenure? >> i am not sure. i think if you are on the tenure track, that means they have a tenured position available at some point in the future. some universities have started to cut down on the number of tenure tracks. when somebody retires, they will say that is good to be now an adjunct position. we will get to that in a minute. getting turned down for tenure is a very common thing. i think a lot of people feel they have been led on.
11:13 pm
they do a certain number of years. once you have been turned down at one university, it is hard to start again at a new university. >> do they give you warning? what if you are not doing well? >> some universities give updates. it is a very personality-driven process. some schools grade you based on your collegiality, which means how well you play with others, which i think it's insulting to a professional. they will give you some sense, in terms of how big your stack of publications is, how they think you are doing relative to others. but from what i have read, a lot of people find it a surprise. >> is there an appeal process? >> some schools. again, there is a lot -- there is not a lot of transparency in
11:14 pm
the process. i think that should bother more people than it does, particularly universities. some schools have a back alley ,ay of the president's office saying you want to be reconsidered. maybe the provost suggests to the department. some schools have formalized procedures. but some, it is hard to discern. >> help me out. professors do not have a transparent process, but if you listen to what comes out of a professor, they are demanding all the time openness. >> the professors are not the most self-reflective, in my opinion. there is not a lot of examination of what goes on. they want to talk about bioethics, government ethics, but not what goes on in the academy and the ethics of that. i think a lack of transparency in the process is one of the
11:15 pm
biggest problems. >> if you were to point out a person you know that hates this book the most, who would it be? >> i think the head of the american association of university professors was asked to comment on my book by "inside higher ed" and said it left him speechless. i was happy to take credit for that, but he was very angry, and particularly, i think, what most professors disagree with is my argument about tenure's connection to academic freedom. that is the first thing that comes out of the professor's mouth when you say, "why do you need can year -- tenure." the first chapter, i talk about what is academic freedom and why
11:16 pm
does it need protecting. one of the arguments i make is about the rise of vocational education. tenure was originally this idea that professor should be protected when they go out on a limb and say something controversial about their discipline. maybe on the margins you can see how this would be important in the case of a couple of humanities professors. maybe cutting edge physical science professors. but professors of business administration? i also talk about some of the new disciplines that have come up -- security studies. there are basically professors of cooking, professors of nutritional studies, who have tenure. when pressed, a professor who is telling the party-line will say, "we need someone with that tenure in security studies so they can talk about immigration.
11:17 pm
and someone in nutrition needs to be able to say something about obesity." this can go on endlessly. there is no limit to the number of controversial things that need protection. in my opinion, i think the bounds of academic freedom have been pushed too far. >> you wrote in the first chapter the american people themselves are directly responsible for the oppressive atmosphere on campus. you are referring back to a woman named bernstein. what are you talking about there? why are people responsible? >> bernstein is vice president at the ford foundation. i heard her talk at a conference in new york a couple years ago. the ford foundation gives money to higher education. the audience was in thrall to hear her talk. she began to list the threats she saw in the american academy
11:18 pm
to academic freedom. she listed conservative religious groups. she listed anti-evolution groups. she listed republicans. but at the end, she said one of the biggest problems she saw were cable news network's like fox, which were telling the american people about professors like the man at columbia who wished upon america and million mogadishus, telling people about the outrages of american universities. to her, the problem was not the outrageous. the problem was that the american public was interested. the idea of -- we get back to this question that you think the university professors and the people who are interested in higher education want transparencies. you think that is a buzz word. but the look at transparency as
11:19 pm
all the little people are now looking over my shoulder and could not possibly understand the scholarship i am engaged in. >> you say just to be clear, here was a sugar daddy of modern liberalism complaining that liberalism like news networks -- the sugar daddy? they are a liberal foundation? >> sure. the ford foundation was responsible for funding the great society before it was funded by the government. even now, on campus, what are the products? they found something called the difficult dialogue program. at the college, if you are an administration, they will give you $100,000 to promote dialogue on your character is about race, sexual orientation, all these things. but the answers are clear. the problem with race is that
11:20 pm
minorities are oppressed, and are still oppressed to this day, still suffering from the legacies of slavery. sexual orientations are all good. it is just a matter of choice. they are not dialogs. they are propaganda campaigns. >> where do you come from on the political skill? >> on the right. >> how did you get there? >> i came by it honestly. my parents would both qualify themselves as conservative. although i think i have thought about it enough. i used to work for "the wall street journal "editorial page. i largely agree with that sort of philosophy on free markets and economically. but i am a social conservative to. >> her father teaches at holy cross. the implication is that there are not many conservatives in academia. >> there are not.
11:21 pm
one of the things that people like to say about tenure, and a lot of conservatives said they would lose their jobs tomorrow if they did not have tenure -- the idea that tenure has protected descend on campus -- dissent on campus is one we can examine more carefully. to give you an example, when barack obama, in the last election, said american professors give twice as much money to him as john mccain. obviously, john mccain lost, but not by that margin. it is not just politically that the fence is not protected. i talk to people who are familiar with arguments in physics departments. if you come out with the wrong view of string theory, you will also be pushed out. it is not an environment that
11:22 pm
tolerates dissent very well. there was a story recently about a professor at ohio university who got tenure. he had been a journalist before. he wrote a piece for the chronicle about how he had resolved to act from now on, now that he has tenure. basically, he said i am done. i am not one to rock the boat anymore. i am not going to stand up. it was like someone who had been beaten down. that process we were talking about, that 7 to 10 years with these people every day, trying so hard to please them because you want this job for life -- i think what it promotes is an atmosphere in which everybody keeps their head down and mouth shut. >> have you read into anybody conservative and who keeps their head down on the politics until
11:23 pm
they get tenure? >> i hear the stories apocryphal it. there was a former head of my department who advises people to first get tenure, and then hoists the jolly roger. >> i have probably come to a similar mentality. but it is a rare person, i think, who can control themselves for that long. and then suddenly at the age of 40, with up and start speaking their mind. if you can do it, if you can sneak under the radar for that long, full people into thinking this is somebody who will really get along well with the atmosphere of the university, and then wake up and say, "i
11:24 pm
look out myself" -- good for you. but i do not know how many of us can keep it to ourselves that long, or really want to alienate the people we have befriended. >> you went to harvard. there are not many conservatives teaching at harvard. they did not change your mind. >> harvey was talking about political leanings. i took a number of a political classes. i majored in english and government. i took government classes with mansfield, berkowitz, and other professors who would classify themselves as conservative. what i really liked about the professors i had was that they left politics at the door. i took classes on chaucer and shakespeare.
11:25 pm
even harvey mansfield, a well- known conservative outside of the classroom -- we did not discuss republican talking points or something like that. i remember his last popular book was on manliness. i took a graduate seminar with him my senior year. a number of radical feminists showed up. they wanted to disrupt the class and get their views heard and protest the idea we would even have such a class. harvey mansfield sits down, a very mild-mannered guy, and just starts talking about plato and courage. these women were like where do we go from here? i thought we were going to talk about gloria steinem or some sexist pig that we can start harassing. my point is that so many of the
11:26 pm
professors i had, i appreciated the fact that there politics were not part of the curriculum. >> you say that in 1994 they could not restrict the age at which you had to retire. we used to have to retire at 65. it was passed in the 80's. it got to 94. what has that done to the university? >> it has exacerbated the tenure problem. many people say to me why not just read institute mandatory retirement. what you have in campus are aging baby boomer professors who are not doing their job very well. they are waiting until their 401k gets big enough they feel comfortable retiring. every time the market takes a hit, they are like one more year. it is a problem.
11:27 pm
i see how mandatory retirement could solve that in some sense. but i am reluctant to go that way. i had some great professors who were 70 years old. i should not say, but certainly harvey mansfield is well over 70 now. many of my professors at the time were certainly well over 65. they had great experience and happened to be good teachers. why should we arbitrarily kick them out just because some people decide they are not going to do their job anymore? >> if i have tenure at the school, does that really mean they cannot fire me? >> it is technically not supposed to mean that, but i have talked to many, administrators who have said it is almost never worth it to fight that battle. we mentioned at churchill a moment ago. when i started this book, a result of was not a point to mention more churchill on every page. -- ward churchill on every page.
11:28 pm
he will be old news. the week the book was published, the colorado state supreme court decided to hear his case. six years after he was fired, he is still fighting this battle. you are the president, hank brown, who has stepped down. he must wake up every morning and think this man will not give up. it cost the university so much money to get rid of these people. even when they have a great case. plagiarism, shoddy scholarship -- so much wrong. but he will continue going to the court. the lesson i have gotten, if you look at the industry newsletters -- they periodically run advice about how administrators can gently push people out. one of them, i was shocked to read, was how and the minister
11:29 pm
can say to a professor for whom it is time to go in, "you can still teach one class." one guy wrote in, saying they had tried this at his school. they have hired a young, dynamic professor to take the place of a professor everybody agreed was incompetent. then i had a fight over who was going to teach this one class. "you promised i could say." the compromise would dewitt each teats a section of the class. -- the compromise was they could each teach a section of the class. they have this fight over who was appointed teach. they teach half of it. there is no mention about the fact that now half the students are going to get someone incompetent. to me, it demonstrated that tenure has nothing to do with the students. teaching is the last thing on the faculty's mind.
11:30 pm
>> define the differences -- a state school versus a private school. what is different? >> as a student? >> what are the overall differences about unions, tenure, and costs? >> the tenure system is not much different. people go back and forth between public and private universities. the largely have the same system, the seven years. there are some different rules about what is protected speech and different senses of academic freedom. with the public schools, they are more involved because of the taxpayer funding. the tenure system is not much different. unions are certainly somewhat different. in 1990, i think, there was a ruling by the supreme court that said if private universities did not want to recognize faculty
11:31 pm
unions, they did not have to. the ruling was called nlbrb versus [unintelligible] it said faculty are like management. they need not be recognized as a union. public university campuses, public unionization is one of the fastest-growing areas of organized labor in the country. you have a situation where the unions are recognized the manufacturing base is shrinking and the private union base is shrinking. public-sector white collar jobs are where the growth is point to happen. you saw some of this. people were surprised during the fight about wisconsin a few months ago to hear if there were -- to hear that there were yunnan's of professors at the university of wisconsin. we usually think of unions for people in jobs where they can be
11:32 pm
exploited, where maybe people are not as educated. yet it is really growing in higher education. that is one big difference. i think you are seeing the effect of that. unions at the bargaining table will mean less distinctions in terms of merit pay. paul will be based on your level of seniority. -- pay will be based on your level of seniority. a lot of professors would say they have been a force for mediocrity. >> i guess i have to have a ph.d. if i am going to get tenure, which takes me how many years? >> that is lengthening as well. it used to be five, six, seven years. now the median time to get a ph.d. in english is 11 years. >> what you do? teach while you are going through that? >> you do. but it is not because you are
11:33 pm
working on your ph.d. part time that it takes 11 years. in fact, there was a piece in harvard magazine a few weeks ago that speculated that one of the reasons it is taking people so long is this mandate to find some new twist, something -- this new twist on something people have written about a thousand times. you'll find a public and realize someone wrote it five years ago in an obscure journal and have to start from scratch. >> can you characterize how much money people make who are professors? >> not a lot. a full professor -- it varies. >> you're at the top of your game. >> you have tenure and cannot be promoted more. by the time you are a full professor, let us say you are in your late 40's, maybe.
11:34 pm
you could be making, depending on the university and the area, $60,000, $80,000. the salaries to not outrage me. i do not think that is the problem. >> that is not why i asked. they have 10 year and are full professors and make $70,000. how much teaching do they have to do? >> let us start with the public research university. >> you have tenure. you are home free. >> at a research university, you could be teaching as little as two classes a semester. >> three hours a week each? six hours in the classroom? >> what happens at a research university -- the assumption is you will be spending approximately half your time doing research. if you ask a state legislator
11:35 pm
how much are you subsidizing research at your state university and they say that a lot of the money is coming from the federal government, the answer is a lot. you are paying people a full salary to teach half the time. >> do you know who gets the most money of all the universities for research? >> of all the universities for research? >> from federal grants? >> i do not. there are 100 universities in america that are part of a club called the american association of universities. the only way you get in is by getting a lot of federal grant money. there were a couple of schools that recently got kicked out. syracuse decided it was about to get kicked out, but left voluntarily. the university of nebraska left as well. the syracuse case -- they were getting private money for some of the research. but that does not count.
11:36 pm
you have to be getting federal money. the prestige it is wrapped up in -- this must be public government funds. so at a time when we are trying to figure out how to cut back and reduce the cost of higher education, they are thinking how can we get more out of federal dollars. >> can they make money outside the classroom, outside the university, when they are tenured professors teaching two classes a semester? >> sure. >> how much of their time? who holds them accountable for research? >> you mean could they be making money doing research for a private company? >> again, i have been in school 15 years. i have full professorship. i am teaching a class is. but i find myself capable of making lots of money over here and do not want to do research for the school. can you blow the school off? >> it would be hard.
11:37 pm
usually what happens with real research grants is that the application has to come from a university. you are applying as part of a university program. it is hard for a single professor to go and get funding from the national science foundation. it would be a different story if you had a drug company. this is where some of the controversy has happened. you have professors who have reached their own private agreement, either with biotech companies or drug companies, where they are making money and it is possible their research is in someone's coming into conflict with their jobs. the private companies obviously have particular ideas about the domain they are in, and who owns this information. the university -- this comes back a little bit to the
11:38 pm
transparency question. the university is supposed to be a free exchange of ideas. we are supposed to understand what is going on in this lab. there was recently a story about a student who had turned in a paper. maybe it had to do with computer encoding or something like that. the student was actually working for the company and felt like he could not complete this assignment without somehow violating his contract with this outside company. there is lot of conflicts of interest going on. >> what is an adjunct professor? >> an adjunct professor is by definition a temporary position. there are atoms who could teach 25 years in the same place. but their contract renewal would generally have been on a year to year or semester by semester basis. they do not get tenure.
11:39 pm
they are not on the tenure track. they do not have to have a phd. many of them do. what happens is that at giants do the bulk of the teaching. >> in all the schools? >> not in all the schools, but in large universities, where you have a senior tenured professor who can opt out of life in the classroom, except maybe graduate level seminars. the i don't are brought in -- the adjuncts are brought in to teach political science 101. >> how much are they paid? >> in some cases, significantly less than minimum wage. there was a film i watched that compared them to migrant workers. i have to say i thought the comparison might have gone a
11:40 pm
little bit far, but it is disturbing. they can find out the week before the semester begins whether they have a job. they get paid next to nothing. >> give me an idea what they get paid. >> there was a professor i talked to at fullerton who i think was getting paid maybe a thousand dollars a month, or $1,200 a month. >> there was one in here getting $549 a month. >> they are paid by the class. >> 14 weeks to a term. three hours a week. is that 42 hours? >> what you have to consider is not just the teaching they are doing. they are also responsible for the grading of papers and things like that. there are activities outside the classroom. one woman said, "i could have 200 kids in class. they have assigned me one
11:41 pm
graduate student who will be with me three hours a week." what do you do with that? are you going to personally grade 200 papers three times a semester? a friend of mine teaches at a large university in pennsylvania. she has been told by her department to stop assigning papers altogether, or exams that involve essays. everything should be multiple choice. it takes too much work. they do not have the labor available, they say, to grade those papers. just do a multiple choice. >> on a percentage basis nationwide at state universities, what is the% of adjunct professors? >> i think 60%. >> what about harbor? that is private? >> it is not a private/public thing. it has to do with the size of the university, and to what extent they expect senior people to do research, and not teach.
11:42 pm
>> what does your dad teach? >> political science. >> how many courses a year does he teach? >> i think he teaches six courses a year, three in the fall, three in the spring. >> why is it at holy cross, a jesuit school, he gets three, and at harvard he might have one? >> harvard is a research university. >> and holy cross is not? >> it is a liberal arts college, a teaching college. >> when did you work at "the wall street journal"? >> i left a year and a half ago and worked there five years. i edited the culture columns and religion columns and wrote about higher education. >> how did you get that job? >> i work at other magazines. i think i worked at "commentary ." i interned at the journal out of college.
11:43 pm
i wrote a book about religious colleges in america. >> why did you do that? where did you get the interest? >> i had visited the two schools that had just opened. one was called off a maria at law school. one was called patrick henry. -- was called ave maria law school. >> patrick henry is down in virginia. >> it moved to florida a couple of years ago. when i visited, it was in an arbor, michigan. >> what did you find interesting? >> they were attracting some extremely smart kids, even though at the time neither one was accredited. they were attracting kids who did not want to stay in a religious ghetto, but bring their ideas to bear in the world of public policy or law, or any
11:44 pm
number of fields. >> how long were you there at commentary? >> two years. >> is that normal? >> yes. >> what did you take away from that experience? >> i was in charge of edmonton the letters there. i do not know how familiar you are with the magazine, but it has an extensive letters section. i became familiar with the intricacies of a lot of debates about foreign policy and domestic politics. i also became more familiar with the wait a magazine works and how it gets produced. >> going back to this book, "the faculty lounges"-- who thought of the title? >> that was me. >> where did you get the interest? what triggered the idea? >> i tried to sell it to other publishers as well.
11:45 pm
>> when did you start the process? >> about three years ago. i have been covering higher education a long time. the driving force behind this book was the sense i have disadvantage other people did not. i understood what was going on behind the scenes, both in terms of my family background and because of the reporting i have done. what happens when a student walks onto campus today -- you are an 18-year-old. somebody hands you a guide. they say pick anything, see what you like. administrators tout it as choose your own adventure. it is not. 18-year-olds do not know what they do not know. pretending they are going to be able to craft for themselves a brilliant education, when many of our general education requirements and core
11:46 pm
curriculum-dropped -- people like to talk about how people want just the great books of western civilization, and it is the attachment to western civilization. i think people need some basic foundation. the education and 18-year-old will craft for themselves is haphazard. you will have animal behavior for an hour on monday. introduction to psychology on today. russian literature wednesday. at the end of four years of that, can you say what this broad education you were supposed to have -- what that turned into? professors are doing this as well, because professors want to spend their time researching their narrow subject. they would be perfectly happy to teach a class in that subject. nobody is saying to them you may prefer to teach a tiny seminar on an obscure topic, but what
11:47 pm
these kids need is a broad introduction to your subject. >> you say there are no jobs for tenured professors out there, but you say your sister has a ph.d. in she teaching? where is she teaching? >> a place called new england conservatory, where they do not offer tenure. >> did she do that on purpose? >> she would have been happy to take a tenured position. >> you write that higher education is so broken right now that it is time to change the pitching mound and the distance to the bases. are you a baseball fan? >> totally. >> not to mention the strike zone. it is so broken? how come? why are all of the school's lists to get in bigger than the spots to bring the students in? >> there are a couple of ways in
11:48 pm
which students tried to measure the quality. one is to say that we are the envy of the world. people come here for our colleges. you are talking about a small percentage of kids, graduate students coming here for hard science class is. it is not all of american higher education that is the envy of the world. the other thing people forget is that higher education has a monopoly. colleges have a monopoly on credentials. people want to get into college because college is the ticket to the middle class. i do not begrudge people that. i do not say you should find another way. right now, we do not have much in the way of another way. we do not have a lot of apprenticeships. college has become a catchall for every different kind of career you want to pursue. for me, i think we could do better.
11:49 pm
there was a story a few weeks ago, maybe a couple months ago, about the founder of paypal, who offered kids $100,000 if they would drop out of college and come work in silicon valley or create their own startup instead. a lot of these kids already had credentials. they were already working for ibm at 13. they were not going to have trouble getting jobs. the point he was trying to make is that there is a price for this. you could spend four years and this amount of money on something, but you had better understand the value of it. for some people, it does not have value. for some people, you can get a job without it. the other question is can't employers find a way of measuring someone's qualifications for a job without just using the college degree.
11:50 pm
i think we need to think more creatively about that. >> who of you listen to in your professional life who talks the best about tenure, who is the most convincing? who is the most convinced it is the thing to do, that it is right? >> that is an interesting question. a hot there are a number of conservative health professors. there is one who thinks it is in need of serious reform. >> he is the president of boston university. >> he has very strong opinions about the reform of higher education, but things we need to keep tenure. i think tenure has protected some very smart people who have said some dissenting things that
11:51 pm
needed to be said. i understand that my argument froze and number of them up. i interviewed a former assistant secretary of education who now works on education reform. he summed up what i eventually took as my position, which was saving the jobs of 400 conservatives is not worth saving the jobs of 400,000 liberals. he said the situation is so unbalanced now that the idea that we are going to keep the system because of the few conservative professors out there -- >> what is the cherry award? >> it is a teaching award. i think you get maybe $200,000 for being the best professor in america. a couple of years ago, i did a story about the three finalists. it is given out by baylor university. a student can nominate you.
11:52 pm
other professors can nominate you. basically, there is a committee that eventually judges the finalists and decides who will win this award, based on their ability to convey information to students. >> sorry to interrupt. but the president of baylor university, in waco texas -- you wrote about the three that were the contestants. roger rosenblatt people would know from public television. the others -- do you remember their names? >> edwin berger at williams, the eventual winner. >> and elliott west. >> at the university of arkansas. i went to see them in person. they are very different styles of teaching. west is not drive. he is telling a story. he has been telling this story
11:53 pm
about american history many years. there were not a lot of fireworks or shenanigans. but i was sitting in an audience of 200. the only visual aids he was putting up were slides of historical photos. everybody was just sitting -- was just sitting and listening to him because he knew how to tell a story. there was a lot of information conveyed. he was not just reading off of notes. he was engaging with the audience, trying to see our people awake, are you listening. berger was more dynamic, jumping around. there were not a lot of fireworks. he did a speech at parents' weekend at williams, with parents and students. he is a math teacher. this struck me because this is the best professor in america, a math professor. you have to not only convey
11:54 pm
these ideas, but you really have to engage people. lots of people take his class because it is a requirement. he is teaching kids who are not necessarily interested in the subject, and he is making them interested. >> he said the best teacher in america according to -- who judges the jury award? >> they are judged by other faculty and some people from outside the university. >> and the winner gets $200,000? >> and a semester in waco. they have to come to baylor to teach. the reason i highlighted this was that when people are talking about why we judge professors by publications and not by teaching, the first response is you cannot measure teaching. teaching is subjective. you know good teaching when you see it. i do not think that is true. i think that is a total, about.
11:55 pm
these are professors who -- there are ways of measuring everything from the lecture style to grading. when somebody gives you back a paper, does it just have a great job at the end, or is it all marked up? are you grammatical mistakes corrected? is there a sense of the professor is engaged in the process, or are they going through the motion? >> how old are your kids? >> two and four. >> do you think by the time they are old enough you will think it is a good idea of going to college? a school is now $60,000 a year in tuition. >> i think if you pick and choose wisely it is possible to get a decent college education, but you have to be really careful. it begins with the process of choosing the college. i cannot tell you the number of people who go visiting colleges
11:56 pm
with their high school juniors in the middle of the summer. what are you doing there in the middle of the summer? there is no teaching. are you just looking at the scenery? can't you look at a book? sit in on classes. do not just sit in on the classes they say you can visit, the upper level constitutional law seminar. you will not be getting there until you are a senior, if then. visit an intro class in the subject you're interested in. >> did you do that before you went to harvard? >> my parents gave me three choices of colleges where they felt they had sufficient friends. >> why did they do that? >> they knew those were the places i would get an education. harvard was not among them. >> why did you switch from middlebury to harvard? >> it was a little too isolated for me. it is in the middle of vermont. socially, i did not feel it was
11:57 pm
right for me. i also felt the students were not engaged as i found them to be at harvard. >> where did you meet your husband? and you live where? >> in new rochelle. he also worked at the journal. he is an editor. >> do you have another book in mind already? when did you finish this? >> the book came out in june. i finished it last fall. >> you are on your way to the next book? >> on a different topic, about interfaith marriage. >> is that your situation? >> not quite. my husband is of no faith. the thing i write about most besides higher education is religion. >> wendy you have this completed? >> it is due in june to oxford university press. if the editors are listening, june. >> is the next book bigger than
11:58 pm
this? >> i think it will be. the next book is a lot of -- i got funding to do a national survey on interfaith marriage. i also spent about four months traveling to do interviews with people across the country. this is more a summary of a lot of things i have learned about higher education over the last number of years as a reporter. >> the name of the book is the faculty lounges and other reasons you will not get the college education you paid for. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> for a d.v.d. copy of this program, call 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts or to give
11:59 pm
your comments, visit us at q- and-a.org. >> coming up, the british deputy prime minister on the economy and other issues. after that, coverage from the cpac conference in florida. also, reports from florida's u.s. senate candidates, running against incumbent bill nelson. >> tomorrow on "washington journal," a look at the foreign- policy views of gop presidential candidates. after that, "the lean start up," how entrepreneurs a

tv
Q A
CSPAN September 25, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am EDT

News/Business. Interviews with leaders from politics, the media, education and technology.

TOPIC FREQUENCY Florida 3, Patrick Henry 2, Harvey Mansfield 2, Syracuse 2, John Mccain 2, Bernstein 2, Academia 2, Chicago 2, Harvard 2, Michigan 2, Gloria Steinem 1, Harvey 1, Littlefield 1, Naomi Schafer Riley 1, Shakespeare 1, Hank Brown 1, Dewitt 1, Maria 1, The Faculty Lounges 1, University 1
Network CSPAN
Duration 01:00:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 100 (651 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color


disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 9/26/2011
Views
96